Joel Embiid explains why he gave middle finger to Kevin Huerter

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(Getty Images)

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the NBA announced it fined Joel Embiid $25,000 "for making an obscene gesture on the playing court and using profane language during a live television interview. ... The amount of Embiid's fine also reflects his multiple prior violations of acceptable on-court decorum."

Late in Monday night's game between the 76ers and Hawks, Joel Embiid was caught giving the middle finger to Kevin Huerter.

Embiid, finishing off a career night with a personal high of 49 points, picked up a defensive rebound with about 24 seconds left in the game. He was making his way across court to dribble out the clock when Huerter came sprinting over to steal the ball away. Puzzled, Embiid quickly gave him a subtle middle finger.

"I also want to say sorry for what I did at the end of the game," Embiid said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "Y'all probably saw that on TV, I am sorry."

He offered up the apology in the TV interview, but during his press conference with reporters after the game, he explained the action a bit further. Essentially, Embiid feels like with the score being out of hand (it was 129-112), Huerter should just let him dribble out the clock.

"There's always this thing about you shouldn't shoot the ball if you're up 20 or something like that. And I feel like it should go both ways. I'm running the clock down and I feel like the game is over. That's why I'm doing it," Embiid said. "But to me, if the other team is gonna keep playing defense, and they're gonna keep shooting the ball at the other end, I feel like we should just be like, 'Well, be better next time,' and just go out and score."

Speaking to reporters, Huerter said he didn't see Embiid's gesture. As for why he stole the ball he simply said, "There was a full shot clock left. I'm going to play."

"There were 23 seconds left in the game. I don't know what he wants," he said. "If he did, I'm not gonna speak on that. It's not out of his character I guess."

When Embiid got the ball back he said he thought about going down the court and scoring just to send a message.

"I thought about it when I had the ball again, but I was like 'I'm going to stay cool,' but I feel like it should go both ways," he said. "If the team up by 20 is running the clock off, I feel like the other team should also respect it and we just moved on. It is what it is, we got the win. That's all I care about."

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